How to improve athletic performance with maca

For women

Step 1:
Take 1-1.5 tsp per day of Maca for Women with breakfast or lunch. Minimum suggested treatment time is 6-12 weeks. Beyond this you may continue to consume maca daily and do not require taking a break from treatment if you are receiving positive benefits. For recipe ideas of how to include maca in your daily routine download our recipe booklet here or watch our recipe channel here.

Step 2:
Take an additional 1-2 sachets of Atomised Black Maca 1-2 hours before a workout or sports event. Dissolve the powder into water, a tea, juice, smoothie or other drink.

For men

Step 1:

Take 1-1.5 tsp per day of Maca for Men with breakfast or lunch. Minimum suggested treatment time is 6-12 weeks. Beyond this you may continue to consume maca daily and do not require taking a break from treatment if you are receiving positive benefits. For recipe ideas of how to include maca in your daily routine download our recipe booklet here or watch our recipe channel here.

Step 2:

Take an additional 1-2 sachets of Atomised Black Maca 1-2 hours before a workout or sports event. Dissolve the powder into water, a tea, juice, smoothie or other drink.

Maca and athletic performance

Elite athletes inspire many people with their impressive physical feats of strength. In 2016, roughly 3.5 billion people worldwide-or nearly half the world population- tuned in for at least part of the Rio Olympics. More than 11,000 Olympic athletes stunned the world with their sprinting, swimming, and overall athletic performance.

The Olympic games inspire viewers to try new sports or activities 1,2. While not everyone will become Olympians, individuals develop personal goals to improve their athletic performance, from running a 5km race to joining a soccer team for the first time.

One of the most popular sports is running. According to Strava, 36 million athletes from around the world ran 6.67 billion miles in 2017 3. Whether your goal is to complete your first 5km race, run a marathon, or improve your finish time, runners strive to boost their athletic performance.

As athletes participate in activities, they begin to experience muscle fatigue or the inability to complete specific motor tasks 4-6. For runners, this may manifest in a decreased running speed at the end of a race or poor running form. In part, this is due to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in skeletal muscle and build up of lactic acid 7,8. During physical activity, skeletal muscles contract leading to an increase in metabolism and thus an increase in the production of ROS. Overproduction of ROS can lead to 7,8:

  • tissue damage
  • DNA damage
  • cell death
  • decreased muscle contractility
  • muscle damage

Antioxidants counteract the damage caused by ROS production. There are two general categories of antioxidants, enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, that work to balance out ROS production. Antioxidants can be naturally produced by the body or absorbed through foods such as fruits and vegetables or natural supplements. For optimal performance, it is vital to properly balance the production of ROS and antioxidants 9,10. For athletes looking for the competitive edge or those seeking more stamina and endurance during workouts the Peruvian medicinal root Lepidium meyenni (maca) may offer some therapeutic benefit. Traditionally maca roots were used by incan warriors to help them run and fight at high altitudes (4000m above sea-level), where oxygen levels are only 40% of that at sea-level. Exercise under such hypoxic conditions can be challenging on the body but they believed maca gave them more stamina, endurance and allowed them to cover greater distances than before. It would be traditionally sun-dried and then boiled into broths and teas to be consumed before exercise or physical activity.

How maca helps with athletic performance

Recent studies suggest that the root plant, Lepidium meyenni (maca), may be able to enhance athletic performance 11-13. Maca is a Peruvian plant that grows in high elevation in the Andes mountains and has been used as a natural remedy to enhance fertility for centuries 14-16. Multiple studies over the past decade highlight the diverse function as maca can strengthen cognitive function, treat depression, and provide multiple health benefits 17-20.

Multiple groups have tested the effects of maca on athletic performance. Wistar rats treated with increasing doses of maca extract lengthened their swimming duration, suggesting an increase in endurance 21,22. Maca treatment also led to a rise in GSH-Px and muscle glycogen, two important antioxidants, suggesting that maca may augment muscle antioxidant activity 21. Several antioxidant compounds in maca contribute to combatting ROS 23. Other studies demonstrated that treatment with macamides, isolated molecules from maca, or treatment with maca powder also strengthened endurance and decreased fatigue 12,13. In laboratory and clinical studies, maca increased physical performance during sexual activity 24,25. Maca treatment prevented skeletal muscle damage, further suggesting that maca may improve athletic performance through multiple mechanisms 12. The black maca variant improved lipid and glucose metabolism and reduced lipogenesis, thereby increasing an innate capacity to perform and promoting overall fitness26.

If you are an Olympic athlete or trying to improve your record in running, maca may be useful to enhance your athletic performance. These studies indicate maca may increase endurance and decrease fatigue by protecting against skeletal muscle damage, providing increasing antioxidant production and activating your metabolism.

Note: There is no upper limit with maca and everybody is different, so it is important to find your ideal dose that is right for your body, for some this may be less than the recommended for others it may be more. If you experience positive health benefits then we suggest you continue treatment at that ideal dosage. The material provided on this website is for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice or be a treatment for any medical condition. Users should consult a health professional if you have any concerns about your health, are starting any health or nutritional related treatment, or for any questions you may have regarding your own or any other party’s medical condition. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Bibliography

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2. Sandercock GRH, Beedie C, Mann S. Is Olympic inspiration associated with fitness and physical activity in English schoolchildren? A repeated cross-sectional comparison before and 18 months after London 2012. BMJ Open. 2016;6(11):e011670. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011670. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e011670

3. #Yearin Sport 2018 Strava. 2018:1-37. https://2018.strava.com/en-us

4. Wan J-J, Qin Z, Wang P-Y, Sun Y, Liu X. Muscle fatigue: general understanding and treatment. Exp Mol Med. 2017;49(10):e384-e384. doi:10.1038/emm.2017.194. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5668469/

5. Theofilidis G, Bogdanis GC, Koutedakis Y, Karatzaferi C. Monitoring Exercise-Induced Muscle Fatigue and Adaptations: Making Sense of Popular or Emerging Indices and Biomarkers. Sports (Basel). 2018;6(4):153. doi:10.3390/sports6040153. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315493/

6. Cowley JC, Gates DH. Proximal and distal muscle fatigue differentially affect movement coordination. Paul F, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(2):e0172835. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172835. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5325574/

7. Powers SK, Radak Z, Ji LL. Exercise-induced oxidative stress: past, present and future. J Physiol (Lond). 2016;594(18):5081-5092. doi:10.1113/JP270646. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5023699/

8. Steinbacher P, Eckl P. Impact of oxidative stress on exercising skeletal muscle. Biomolecules. 2015;5(2):356-377. doi:10.3390/biom5020356. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866921

9. He L, He T, Farrar S, Ji L, Liu T, Ma X. Antioxidants Maintain Cellular Redox Homeostasis by Elimination of Reactive Oxygen Species. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;44(2):532-553. doi:10.1159/000485089. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29145191

10. Pingitore A, Lima GPP, Mastorci F, Quinones A, Iervasi G, Vassalle C. Exercise and oxidative stress: potential effects of antioxidant dietary strategies in sports. Nutrition. 2015;31(7-8):916-922. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2015.02.005. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26059364

11. Yang Q, Jin W, Lv X, et al. Effects of macamides on endurance capacity and anti-fatigue property in prolonged swimming mice. Pharm Biol. 2016;54(5):827-834. doi:10.3109/13880209.2015.1087036. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13880209.2015.1087036

12. Zheng Y, Zhang W-C, Wu Z-Y, et al. Two macamide extracts relieve physical fatigue by attenuating muscle damage in mice. J Sci Food Agric. 2019;99(3):1405-1412. doi:10.1002/jsfa.9318. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30120787

13. Guo S-S, Gao X-F, Gu Y-R, et al. Preservation of Cognitive Function by Lepidium meyenii (Maca) Is Associated with Improvement of Mitochondrial Activity and Upregulation of Autophagy-Related Proteins in Middle-Aged Mouse Cortex. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016(2):4394261-4394269. doi:10.1155/2016/4394261. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5018343/

14. Gonzales GF, Nieto J, Rubio J, Gasco M. Effect of Black maca (Lepidium meyenii) on one spermatogenic cycle in rats. Andrologia. 2006;38(5):166-172. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0272.2006.00733.x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1534053/

15. Del Prete C, Tafuri S, Ciani F, et al. Influences of dietary supplementation with Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on stallion sperm production and on preservation of sperm quality during storage at 5 °C. Andrology. 2018;6(2):351-361. doi:10.1111/andr.12463. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29359412

16. Onaolapo AY, Oladipo BP, Onaolapo OJ. Cyclophosphamide-induced male subfertility in mice: An assessment of the potential benefits of Maca supplement. Andrologia. 2018;50(3):e12911. doi:10.1111/and.12911. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/and.12911

17. Stojanovska L, Law C, Lai B, et al. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric. 2015;18(1):69-78. doi:10.3109/13697137.2014.929649. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13697137.2014.929649?journalCode=icmt20

18. Rubio J, Dang H, Gong M, Liu X, Chen S-L, Gonzales GF. Aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) improve scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007;45(10):1882-1890. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2007.04.002. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691507001433?via%3Dihub

19. Pino-Figueroa A, Nguyen D, Maher TJ. Neuroprotective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca). Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010;1199(1):77-85. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05174.x. https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05174.x

20. Gonzales-Arimborgo C, Yupanqui I, Montero E, et al. Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2016;9(3):49. doi:10.3390/ph9030049. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039502/

21. Yu F-R, Yang B, Li Z-P, et al. [Effects of the maca extract on the ultrastructures of mitochondria in the spinal nerve cell and exercise endurance]. Zhongguo Ying Yong Sheng Li Xue Za Zhi. 2017;33(6):535-538. doi:10.12047/j.cjap.5601.2017.127. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29931904

22. Choi, E.H., et al., Supplementation of standardized lipid-soluble extract from maca (Lepidium meyenii) increases swimming endurance capacity in rats. Journal of Functional Foods, 2012. 4(2): p. 568-573. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464612000436

23. Li, J., et al., Anti-fatigue activity of polysaccharide fractions from Lepidium meyenii Walp. (maca). Int J Biol Macromol, 2017. 95: p. 1305-1311. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27840217

23. Baskar, A.A., et al., beta-sitosterol prevents lipid peroxidation and improves antioxidant status and histoarchitecture in rats with 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced colon cancer. J Med Food, 2012. 15(4): p. 335-43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22353013

24. Zheng, B.L., et al., Effect of a lipidic extract from lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology, 2000. 55(4): p. 598-602. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10736519

25. Zenico, T., Cicero, A. F. G., Valmorri, L., Mercuriali, M., & Bercovich, E. (2009). Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well‐being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double‐blind clinical trial. Andrologia41(2), 95-99.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19260845

26. Wan, W., Li, H., Xiang, J., Yi, F., Xu, L., Jiang, B., & Xiao, P. (2018). Aqueous Extract of Black Maca Prevents Metabolism Disorder via Regulating the Glycolysis/Gluconeogenesis-TCA Cycle and PPARα Signaling Activation in Golden Hamsters Fed a High-Fat, High-Fructose Diet. Frontiers in pharmacology9, 333. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29681858

Treating With Maca